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Thread: What will be the "shopping mall" of tomorrow?

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    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    What will be the "shopping mall" of tomorrow?

    Shopping in America for the past few decades has been concentrated in strip malls as well as the classic indoor mall. The indoor malls are on the decline across the country and the strip malls will only be developed for so long given the enormous amount of land they waste. What will be the next generation of shopping for Americans? The walkable, downtown commercial districts seem to be making a comeback, but only so many people will use them since the majority of Americans will not go anywhere they can't park their car (for free).

    Will it be online shopping? I know I do a great deal of my shopping on the internet, in the comfort of my own home. Do you think this will eventually be the norm or will there be something else?

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    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    The next “shopping mall” will be a new version of the downtown districts, with plenty of parking for the district, but not dedicated to each store (as is the norm for strip malls). The retail only “lifestyle center” is a trend that will fade.

    With the proliferation of internet shopping, bricks and mortar stores will have to provide a much more enriching experience than just the stores themselves.

    Mixed use projects along the lines of Birkdale Village will become more common not only because they offer the popular stores and plenty of parking, but more importantly they create a vibrant streetscape and a sense of place. When properly designed, mixed use developments provide more than just housing and shopping. They foster intangible benefits that allow for human relationships to develop – something that internet shopping will never be able to compete with.

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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    With the proliferation of internet shopping, bricks and mortar stores will have to provide a much more enriching experience than just the stores themselves.
    Retail commerce will continue to consolidate (kmart/sears, et al), in order to provide convenience and purchase security over experience. It may take a 20 minute drive through thick arterial traffic, but once you're there, you'll have to go no where else to make a stop. If experience is enhanced in anyway, it may be through courtesies such as more "price check" units, store directories, more enthusiasitc, helpful salespersons, more specific inventory based upon demographics and trends, resting benches, highly interactive displays, customer service "enhancements" such as extended warranties, and service plans will make the consumer feel secure in their purchases and more likely to spend more than necessary. The average low-middle class/middle class shopper doesn't worry too much about the aesthetic appearance or the environment of the shopping center as much as they worry about being taken care of through purchase education (cleaver/specific "personallity type" sales pitches) and knowing they're covered if their product has problems later.

    Pure grocery stores will decline. Many will convert to hosting more household or discount store goods or close all together. Grocery will still have a niche market, but in the majority of middle class suburbs and cities, the consumer will opt to save a buck and some driving time and the all-in-one stop.

    Internet retailing can't offer the verbal personal sales service that B&M stores can.
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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    The future is now:



    Of course they'll all be in China because we won't have any means to buy anything anymore. Who knows? Maybe the open-air market will come back into style, with people haggling for each tomato and rusty tool.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The retail format? Just as there are now, there will be many formats in the future. The internets will continue to get a larger share of the overall market, but far from a majority. People shop for a variety of reasons and may have differing expectations for various types of goods. There will be a need for neighborhood, community, and regional shopping opportunities, with an increasing range of products in each. People may shop for convenience or for the experience. All of which leads me back to saying that the shopping format of the future will be the neighborhood store, the downtown, the enclosed regional mall, the big box, the lifestyle center, the internets, the factory outlet, the....
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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Lifestyle centers will be the dominant "mall" for the next 10-20 years. All smaller indoor malls in major metros will close down or convert. Only the big regional mall giants will remain, and only if they do a good job constantly reinventing and renovating themselves. I see office space and reisdential being incorporated a lot more into lifestyle centers, forming an all-in-one live-work-shop-play environment, similar to the downtown areas that will continue to grow.

    Boiker mentioned grocery stores. I think the Albertsons, Jewels, Safeways, Cubs, etc. will fade quickly unless they lower their prices, offer a more appealing shopping environment, AND a greater product selection. I also see a revival of the local butcher, the local produce market, and the local bakery. All of these places are packed on weekends in my sprawled-out area. People will shop all over the place for quality, diet, selection, and low price if they have to. Upscale grocers like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods will also continue to grow.

    As far as strip centers go, I see the buildings becoming more condensed, except for Wal-Mart. The big parking lots will remain. But I also see a high demand for quality aesthetics by local governments, so hopefully they won't be the ugly shopping centers of the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston

    With the proliferation of internet shopping, bricks and mortar stores will have to provide a much more enriching experience than just the stores themselves.

    Mixed use projects along the lines of Birkdale Village will become more common not only because they offer the popular stores and plenty of parking, but more importantly they create a vibrant streetscape and a sense of place. When properly designed, mixed use developments provide more than just housing and shopping. They foster intangible benefits that allow for human relationships to develop – something that internet shopping will never be able to compete with.
    This is a very good point. How many people do you know that shop at Walmart that really, I mean really, enjoy the experience? Many stores have websites that have significantly more available than in their buildings. Younger buyers are more and more comfortable buying things on the internet and often won't go to the store at all. You have to give these shoppers a reason to come to the store.

    I think you will see more of a hybrid lifestyle center that will no longer be exclusively retail. They will have a bunch of structured parking around them as people seek additional convenience of not having to cross a parking lot to get to another store. Shopping will become a destination activity that you spend the whole day at, which requires more amenities.

    I agree with Cardinal though that there will be several different retail types with no single one completely dominating.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Could someone define "lifestyle centers" for me? I'm not familiar with the term.

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- It's a mall with no roof, but not like a strip mall, because the stores are arranged around a central 'courtyard' that's done up to look like a downtown, with the parking moonscape around the structure and not visible from the courtyard.

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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Of course they'll all be in China because we won't have any means to buy anything anymore. Who knows? Maybe the open-air market will come back into style, with people haggling for each tomato and rusty tool.
    I think jordan nails it. What do I see as the format of the future? Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome had a cool outdoor market where you could buy salvaged scrap metal, mutated vegetables, or a knifing all in one setting.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    ^-- It's a mall with no roof, but not like a strip mall, because the stores are arranged around a central 'courtyard' that's done up to look like a downtown, with the parking moonscape around the structure and not visible from the courtyard.
    ^ That's the Florida lifestyle center. ^

    Lifestyle centers Algonquin Commons and Geneva Commons (Chicago area) are more reminscent of strip centers, except instead of one straight line of stores, it is an L-shape. There are also a few island buildings and restaurant pads.
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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Ok see, I'd call that a strip mall. The whole point of a lifestyle center is to make it feel like you're in a downtown. If it's still a line of buildings with fronts exposed to the freeway across an acre of parking, why should that be called something other than "strip mall??

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    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Could someone define "lifestyle centers" for me? I'm not familiar with the term.
    Think Disneyland’s Main Street with the Gap and Pottery Barn. They try to create a “downtown feel”, but typically have only upscale retail. While these centers may be slightly less offensive than typical sprawling shopping centers, they are just the same beast repackaged. They have the same size and parking requirements and don’t offer anything more.

    I am all for building new “Main Streets” where none exist, in the vast, sprawling cultural vacuum of modern suburbs, but they must have something other than retail. When mixed uses such as residential, entertainment, and office are added, a vibrant new community can be built. A lot depends on the quality of the overall plan and design of each building, and the mix of uses within the project. I would argue that partnerships of multiple developers and designers will create better projects than a single developer scenario, but some single developer mixed use projects have come out well.

    The industry just needs a good “buzzword” for these type projects. “Lifestyle center” implies retail only in much the same way as “power center”. Mixed use development, smart growth, and TND are not terms marketable to the general public. The investors and developers will start building these projects once they have a name for what they’re doing.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Ok see, I'd call that a strip mall. The whole point of a lifestyle center is to make it feel like you're in a downtown. If it's still a line of buildings with fronts exposed to the freeway across an acre of parking, why should that be called something other than "strip mall??
    Things that, I guess, do not make it a strip mall:

    Brick pedestrian paths that cross through the parking lots to connect the L-shaped building to the island buildings.
    Fashion stores like Ann Taylor, The Gap, White House Black Market, American Eagle, and Hollister.
    Specialty boutiques like Sharper Image, Bombay, and Pottery Barn.
    Lifestyle center restaurants: an irish pub, an italian restaurant, a bar, etc.
    Store directories
    Music playing throughout
    Lots of landscaping
    Each store designs its own storefront
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner
    Things that, I guess, do not make it a strip mall:

    Brick pedestrian paths that cross through the parking lots to connect the L-shaped building to the island buildings.
    Fashion stores like Ann Taylor, The Gap, White House Black Market, American Eagle, and Hollister.
    Specialty boutiques like Sharper Image, Bombay, and Pottery Barn.
    Lifestyle center restaurants: an irish pub, an italian restaurant, a bar, etc.
    Store directories
    Music playing throughout
    Lots of landscaping
    Each store designs its own storefront
    Strip mall is the format. Brick, store types, restaurants, directories and the like are marketing enhancements. Is a power center any different from a strip mall? Not really, maybe the users are all mid-boxes rather than anchors and tenants.. but the format is essentially the same. You can have pretty strip malls with fresh, user specific architecutre, brick walkways, and heavy landscaping and you can have ugly, stark non-functional strip centers too.
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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    There will be no shopping mall of tomorrow! We're all going to drown amidst a sea of tupperware containers and brand-name sneakers and four thousand varieties of shampoo! Aieeeee!

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    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    Think Disneyland’s Main Street with the Gap and Pottery Barn.
    Lol, when I took my cousin to Columbus' Easton Town Center for the first time, the first words out of his mouth were, "I feel like I'm in Disneyland!" So funny on a couple of levels -- how theme parks are some people's only exposure to dense and clean Main Street-type developments, and how lifestyle centers fool nobody, as copies of the real thing.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 11 Aug 2005 at 1:50 PM.

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    Cyburbian ikeaboi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spacefiller
    Lol, when I took my cousin to Columbus' Easton Town Center for the first time, the first words out of his mouth were, "I feel like I'm in Disneyland!" So funny on a couple of levels -- how theme parks are some people's only exposure to dense and clean Main Street-type developments, and how lifestyle centers fool nobody, as copies of the real thing.
    Fortunately though most people seem to prefer the Easton model. I remember our local free press (The Other Paper) included in their annual poll a year ago "Which Mall would you rather see die first, Easton or Polaris?" Polaris, a conventional mall, got 80% of the vote, even though it's newer by a year or two.

    I'd like to be optimistic and think that lifestyle centers are a segway in evolution between the shopping mall of yesterday (strip mall) and the shopping mall of tomorrow (mixed use main streets). It's not the real thing, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I think the predominant model will continue to be the "power center" in most places, particularly in the rapidly growing sunbelt. By this I mean just a bunch of connected big box retail stores. This is the cheapest route for the developer and local governments salivate over the sales tax revenue these things bring in.

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    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Do you think rising gas prices are going to affect the location of new business districts? We draw people from 60 miles away. I would think that trips would be made less often. With gas prices the way they are we can afford to pay more and stay closer to home. Our trips to the southern end of town will be more limited. I will try to combine trips more if I can.
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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B
    Do you think rising gas prices are going to affect the location of new business districts? We draw people from 60 miles away. I would think that trips would be made less often. With gas prices the way they are we can afford to pay more and stay closer to home. Our trips to the southern end of town will be more limited. I will try to combine trips more if I can.
    That's an interesting thought. The trend has been for fewer stores to serve a larger number of customers from further distances. This has been going on since the seventies, and is certainly exacerbated by population losses in many rural counties. I don't see any change, despite rising fuel costs. Stores need to generate a certain volume of business in order to be competitive on price and to make a profit for their owners. Some small town retailers have diversified their products (I am thinking of a gas station owner who added 3000 square feet to carry fresh meat, produce, and groceries in a town without a grocery store), and there is a small rise in co-op or community-owned stores in rural areas, but that is about all.
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    Answer to this thread

    Did anyone attend the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas in May? It is Vegas' 2nd biggest convention after Comdex. If you want to learn about the shopping center of the future, be there in May 2006.

    The 2 biggest drivers of new shopping center development are retailer demands and government regulation. Consequently, the 2 types of development formats that will happen most are power centers and lifestyle centers. In addition, existing regional malls will continue to be expanded to accommodate strong demand from a long list of expanding retailers and restaurants.

    Fewer regional malls will be developed - even though they work - because it takes too much time and $ to get through the planning process.

    Normal power centers will continue to be developed where governments will grant the permits. Some of these will be redeveloped Toys R Us and other boxes, others will be ground up projects. Growing retailers like Wal-Mart and Office Depot do well in power center formats.

    Lifestyles centers will be developed instead of new malls because governments can be convinced to grant the permits. Typical mall retailers like Abercrombie and Gap will anchor these centers. These retailers are willing to look outside the mall today because no new malls are being created in areas with their target customers. New lifestyle center developments will often feature a residential component. This housing part will be a separate part of the site plan. Sorry guys, housing on top of retail is just stupid from a business perspective except in a couple US cities.

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    community based retail units

    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Shopping in America for the past few decades has been concentrated in strip malls as well as the classic indoor mall. The indoor malls are on the decline across the country and the strip malls will only be developed for so long given the enormous amount of land they waste. What will be the next generation of shopping for Americans? The walkable, downtown commercial districts seem to be making a comeback, but only so many people will use them since the majority of Americans will not go anywhere they can't park their car (for free).

    Will it be online shopping? I know I do a great deal of my shopping on the internet, in the comfort of my own home. Do you think this will eventually be the norm or will there be something else?
    Hopefully planners & politicians will have come to their senses and whack huge taxes upon centralised shopping malls, forcing 'the shop' onto the streets and into the neighbourhoods. Decentralisation & diversity are the future of the USA. Car-culture needs to be addressed and this will only occur when these issues are addressed in planning terms, preventing the need to climb into the gas gusler just to buy some fresh bread or milk.

    waken up, society needs those at the top to act responsibly and educate those less fortunate.....consumption via individual deliveries (internet shopping) is not the answer....unless your question is 'what is the least respectful means of purchasing my goods and how do i become obese in the process'...come on, push society out of the car and onto your feet...you may even enjoy it!

    Here's to community based retail units!

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    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by eedbeed
    consumption via individual deliveries (internet shopping) is not the answer....unless your question is 'what is the least respectful means of purchasing my goods and how do i become obese in the process'...come on, push society out of the car and onto your feet...you may even enjoy it!
    I shop online mainly due to money saved (lower prices and I don't have to burn gas to go anywhere), as well as convenience. There are plenty of walkable shopping areas that I enjoy as well. I'm not going to become obese from it, though, as I realize that I must maintain a good exercise regimen on my own because my environment is geared around being sedentary. That means kickboxing, boxing and jogging every week for me

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    your savings are a the cost of our environment....someone has to burn gas to get your products to your house....take the notion that everyone shopped for all products this way....the would mean alot of individual journeys for your new consuming process....at the expense of the rest of the world!

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